THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Hundred Waters and Kelsey Lu, The Social, Oct. 12
With their just-released third album, Communicating, Hundred Waters
now emerge with their most accessible work yet – and that’s anything but the concession it sounds like. The Gainesville-born, Orlando-connected breakouts have always been unequivocally of left field,
transmitting on their own extraterrestrial wavelength from conception. This latest pivot, rather than tame their sound, actually sharpens it with better framing and punctuation. Their vision remains avant-garde and original as ever, just with some new focus. And the result is sterling.
Like their crew, which is now a high-performing trio, Hundred Waters’ sound has been stripped of much of its excess and become a distilled thing of essence and point. But still in play and dictating every step is their sense of art, presentation and theater. And frontwoman Nicole Miglis – whose lead presence evokes the power of greats like Björk
and Everything But the Girl’s Tracy Thorn
– is the embodiment of this flair.
As one of the most noteworthy and adventurous breakout acts Florida has produced in modern times, Hundred Waters have come a long way since their Gainesville beginnings when I first started covering them. Now, they’re a name that carries big cachet and cred, some of the biggest in the indie world right now. This latest look, though, shows that they may just be starting to dig in and unlock their stratospheric potential as an art band that can transcend esoterica
and perhaps play big.
Looking like she’s cut from cloth just as conceptual as Hundred Waters, East Coast opener Kelsey Lu
launched the night into immediate and serious show mode by emerging onstage cast in total shadow, coaxing ghostly, almost animal sounds from a cello and silencing the crowd.
Expanding with loops, layers, voice and guitar, she weaved some celestial soul
that, unlike 99 percent of all music, seems to evoke little history or tradition. There are hints of world music, folk and blues, but they’re more suggestion than inspiration. It’s immediately modern but feels like it’s tapping some primordial marrow that’s ineffable but palpable.
Though just solo, Lu’s appearance was a room-owning performance,
one of the most commanding opening sets seen in a long time. And it closed to an approving howl from the audience. Captivating and original, this is one compelling young artist to watch.
This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column, providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.
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